CTU releases 'The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve', a 45-page report challenging the 'failed status quo' of Chicago's corporate school reform

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (above at podium) answers questions about "The Schools Our Children Deserve" at the February 16, 2012 press conference, while those who contributed to the document look on. Left to right above: Julie Woestehoff (PURE), Monty Neill (FairTest), Rosalia Grillier, Kevin Kumashiro, Carol Caref, Iliana Espinoza, Jesse Sharkey, Kristine Mayle, Pauline Lipman, and Pavlan Jankov. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The Chicago Teachers Union on February 16, 2012 released and discussed at major report on how to truly improve Chicago’s public schools at a press conference that last for more than one hour and from which not one reporter left early. The 46-page CTU report, entitled “The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve” is a direct challenge both to the corporate “school reform” agenda of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and to the upcoming actions by the Chicago Board of Education. The seven members of the school board, all appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, are expected to vote to close at least a half dozen schools at its February 22 meeting and to subject another ten schools to so-called “turnaround” on the basis of "the failed status quo" of corporate school reform criticized in the union's report. The URL for the report, for those who cannot access a hotlink, is

During the hour-long press conference, President Lewis introduced both those who contributed to the report and those who were supporting it from among Chicago's parent, community, and student leaders. Also praising the report was Monty Lewis, Executive Director of Fair Test (The National Center for Fair and Open Testing), who spoke later to a CTU luncheon.

The cover of "The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve."Lewis answered extensive questions from reporters after the presentations on the report, but the media interview part of the press conference was almost hijacked by two reporters from the Chicago Sun-Times, which has been newly purchased by wealthy supporters of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Sun-Times immediately focused on the financial rather than the educational aspects of the report, even though the Sun-Times has had in its possession for two months the latest CPS audited financial report, which showed, once again, that CPS lied about its financial situation during the final year of Ron Huberman's term as "Chief Executive Officer."

Highlights of the CTU report include the following:

Recognize Class Size Matters: Drastically reduce class size. We currently have one of the largest class sizes in the state. This greatly inhibits the ability of our students to learn and thrive.

Educate The Whole Child: Invest to ensure that all schools have recess and physical education equipment, healthy food offerings, and classes in art, theater, dance, and music in every school. Offer world languages and a variety of subject choices. Provide every school with a library and assign the commensurate number of librarians to staff them.

Create More Robust Wrap-around Services: The Chicago Public Schools system (CPS) is far behind recommended staffing levels suggested by national professional associations. The number of school counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists must increase dramatically to serve Chicago’s population of low-income students. Additionally, students who cannot afford transportation costs need free fares.

Address Inequities in Our System: Students and their families recognize the apartheid-like system managed by CPS. It denies resources to the neediest schools, uses discipline policies with a disproportionate harm on students of color, and enacts policies that increase the concentrations of students in high poverty and racially segregated schools.

Help Students Get Off to a Good Start: We need to provide age-appropriate (not test-driven) education in the early grades. All students should have access to pre-kindergarten and to full day kindergarten.

Respect & Develop the Professionals: Teachers need salaries comparable to others with their education and experience. They need time to adequately plan their lessons and collaborate with colleagues, as well as the autonomy and shared decision-making to encourage professional judgment. CPS should hire more teaching assistants so that no students fall through the cracks.

Teach All Students: We need stronger commitments to address the disparities that exist due to our lack of robust programs for emergent bilingual students and services for students faced with a variety of special needs.

Provide Quality School Facilities: No more leaky roofs, asbestos-lined bathrooms, or windows that refuse to shut. Students need to be taught in facilities that are well-maintained and show respect for those who work and go to school there.

Partner With Parents: Parents are an integral part of a child’s education. They need to be encouraged and helped in that role.

Fully Fund Education: A country and city that can afford to take care of its affluent citizens can afford to take care of those on the other end of the income scale. There is no excuse for denying students the essential services they deserve.


February 17, 2012 at 9:12 PM

By: John Kugler

Parents Occupy Piccolo Elementary School

Parents Occupy Piccolo Elementary School - - to protest the Board of Education’s plans. The Board plans to vote on Wednesday to turnaround Piccolo and hand over management of the school to AUSL, Academy for Urban School Leadership, a privately connected firm with ties to City Hall. For the time being, you can follow what's happening on Occupy Chicago's UStream account.

Story @

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

1 + 3 =